May 5th was a very memorable day for the Emerald Coasts Children’s Advocacy’s (ECCAC) Niceville Center. Not only did it mark the official re-opening after the almost 9-month restoration and renovation of the Center after it experienced fire and significant water damage, it was also the official re-naming and dedication of the Center to the Julie Sacco Porterfield Children’s Advocacy Center.
Guests at the ceremonies met the ECCAC team, took tours if the newly restored Center and learned about the numerous programs and services offered to locally abused children and their families. Along with several guest speakers, students from the C.W. Ruckel Middle School Choir also entertained attendees just before the ribbon-cutting.
Board president Janet Parker commented, “On behalf of the community, our Board, and the children and families we provide services to, we are so pleased to recognize Julie for the extraordinary leadership she has consistently shown over the past 24 years, both founding and running the non-profit’s Centers in both Okaloosa and Walton Counties.”
Julie Sacco Porterfield is a special lady with a big heart when it comes to the well-being of children. She was at the forefront of this major undertaking and became the founding CEO of ECCAC. It started before the Niceville center became a reality when Porterfield undertook a grassroots community and governmental effort to establish ECCAC in 1999. A small 900 square foot office was opened in what was once a dry cleaners in Valparaiso. During the first few years of ECCAC’s beginning, her passion, dedication and energy, along with the financial support of the community and a strong volunteer base, enabled a $2.1 million, 13,000 square foot new center to be built and open in Niceville, Okaloosa County, in October of 2000.
Porterfield, who prefers not to be in the lime light commented to the guests, “I am still in awe… and incredibly humbled to be honored in this way. I give the glory to God. He certainly has given me the grace, wisdom, and discernment to do my very best to make lives better for children. You all have given me the incredible gift of leaving a legacy for my family, especially my son.”
As many know, the two Centers don’t house children, but they are set up with a multidisciplinary team of child protection personnel, prosecutors, law enforcement, DCF, therapists, as well as ECCAC staff and volunteers to provide services at no cost to the children in a child-friendly environment. In ECCAC’s 24-year history, over 15,000 children have received more than 170,000 services at no cost.
For further information about the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, visit www.eccac.org. If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.